" A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers ... marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences. "
Henry David Thoreau

Back in the day


Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster

As the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway train plowed ahead through deep snow on December 29, 1876, a bridge over Ohio's Ashtabula River fractured with a loud crack, plunging every train car except the lead engine into the river about 70 ft (21 m) below. The wooden cars, equipped with kerosene lamps and stoves, became an inferno. Ninety-two people died, many burned beyond recognition. The accident initiated the standardization of bridge inspection. What became of the bridge's designers?



Horsepower Indeed

Early streetcars had horsepower, literally; they were drawn by horses or mules and called "horsecars." By the late 1880s, there were 415 street railway companies in the US. However, horses could only work for about four hours a day and needed to be groomed, fed, and housed—and they left behind tremendous amounts of waste. These issues, coupled with the introduction of the overhead trolley system in 1887, spelled the end of the horsecar era. Where was the last functional horsecar in the US?

Born on a day like today


Venustiano Carranza

After Mexican leader Porfirio Díaz was deposed in 1911, a protracted power struggle ensued. Carranza was the third person in as many years to assume executive power after Díaz's ouster, but revolutionary leaders Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata objected and responded with force. Carranza prevailed, but his failure to implement key provisions of the liberal constitution of 1917 led to further unrest, and he was killed in 1920. What does carrancear, coined during Carranza's tenure, mean?

Last updated on Sunday, 29th December 2013

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